Aspen Farm Horse Trials was a total success for the small team of Z Eventing riders participating. Sara Sellmer, with head groom TJ Drake, and apprentice coach Madeleine Scott made the drive to Yelm, Washington to compete on 4 horses.
Sara and TF Kreisel (Brad) entered into the “Adequan USEA Advanced Level Gold Cup”. Sara also rode Triple Sec in the “Tin Men Supply Area VII Open Preliminary Championship” and Midnight Tango II in Open Preliminary. Madeleine was riding Eleanor Go Brightly in her debut at the Training Level.
All four partnerships had successful events! Triple Sec was foot perfect in her jumping phases and ended up in 9th place. Midnight Tango II ran his first Prelim event and was a total star in all phases - finishing in 5th place after a double clear cross country round. This was Eleanor Go Brightly first Training event – with Madeleine in the saddle, they improved their standings with each passing phase and the pair looked polished and are a very promising partnership.
The highlight was Brad’s great event and 2nd place finish. They started off on the right foot - tying for 2nd place with a 30.7 in dressage (even after Brad did some extra flying changes that weren't required). But people really started to notice when they came galloping in over the cross country finish line 20 seconds to spare and lots of horse left. They were the fastest time over the course – “Brad was fantastic. He was hunting all the jumps. I knew by fence 3 he was on, and then I just enjoyed it and let him do his thing. He got a bit long to the water, but he is so quick and honest it worked out.” They finished in 2nd place overall by .3 points!
Lots of press coverage was a bonus, people were watching:
Of course – it only ran so smoothly for everyone because of TJ's amazing work!
Most of you are likely curious what happened in the cross-country phase at Copper Meadows – so here is a play-by-play.
Dressage was great. We have been focusing on dressage since our last trip to California and Brad is on a B12 supplement and helps a lot with his relaxation. As a result, Brad improved in all his movements – yay! We did lose big marks in one flying change - which was multiplied by 2 - so we got a 2/20 instead of, for example, a 14/20 (a mark of 1 vs an expected 7). But we were super happy with 4th place after the first phase.
For whatever reason, in the cross country warm-up I felt a little unsure what to do - so I just ran around and jumped - NOT a great plan (well, actually not a plan at all). Out on the course, it felt the same, I just ran around and jumped. We didn't turn; we didn’t slow down! Brad ducked out on the B element of the double ditch and brush. I came around for a second approach, cleared it and carried on. Then another run out at a corner at fence 10B. I decided to call it a day. It wasn't the time nor place to start schooling, I should have done that in the warm-up and missed my chance.
We schooled everything on Monday and Brad felt super. The ditch wall and brush skinny still presented problems, but we got it sorted – with a plan and focus! We jumped all the water lines with no wobbles.
In hindsight, Brad needs more time to rest before we run. TJ and I powered through the drive down here and he was dehydrated when we arrived and not quite himself. We have been down here for a while now and are settled at Galway. With some rest, a routine and some lessons learned I feel recharged and so does Brad.
We will press on to do the Advanced horse trials here at Galway on April 1st (http://eventingscores.com/eventsr/galway/ht0416/) and aim for the CIC 3*** at Twin Rivers. I posted a quote on Facebook that resonates right now “I never lose. I either win or learn.’ Lesson’s learned J We are excited for next weekend.